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blueBlack Spectacle Lake

  5.0 ( 6 ) Favorite


19.5 mile 31.3 kilometer out and back
91% Runnable


Ascent: 2,603' 794 m
Descent: -2,604' -794 m
High: 4,441' 1,353 m
Low: 2,826' 861 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 28% (16°)


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Trail shared by Jessie Morris

It got its name for a reason – the views and remote location make this trek well worth the effort.

Jessie Morris

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers

Parking Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass.


Spectacle Lake got its name for a reason. With views of Pete's Lake and a glimpse of the PCT along the way, the trek in is long but interesting. Once you arrive at Spectacle Lake, you'll be blown away by the dramatic peaks as its backdrop. It's well worth the run in, but considering the distance, it's highly recommended to backpack in and stay a night.

Need to Know

There is a creek crossing at mile 5.5 - be prepared with strap-able sandals and trekking poles. If fording the creek or crossing on a log seems unsafe, you can opt to take a 2.7-mile detour, but be sure to refer to your map if you choose to do this.

Bring plenty of water for the stretch between Pete Lake (& the lake crossing) to Spectacle Lake - this stretch can be especially hot and dry in summer months.

If you visit during the summer months, bring plenty of bug spray - the mosquitoes can be nearly unbearable.


After departing the Pete Lake trailhead, you get a glimpse of Pete Lake about 4-4.25 miles into the Pete Lake Trail. Here you'll find several camp spots along the lake which make for a good overnight stop along the way or a final destination for families. But be warned that it's a popular place and you likely won't be alone.

At about 5.5 miles in, you'll cross Lemah Creek - depending on water levels, this could be challenging even for experienced runners. Be sure to bring strap-able sandals with you to keep your boots dry, and add in trekking poles for balance. There is a 2.7-mile detour you can navigate (not documented here) if the water is too high to cross here.

With a brief overlap on the PCT, during this stretch you'll cut through barren land stripped by an old forest fire. Shortly after departing from the PCT, you'll catch glimpses of Spectacle Lake and the surrounding area with Chikamin Peak and Lemah Mountain as the lake's backdrop.

As you approach the lake on the Spectacle Lake Trail, you'll find various social trails strewn about, but most of the campsites are clustered on a hilly isthmus that juts out into the lake. And you can find a privy perched on a hillside above the south side of the lake.


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Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 6 votes


  5.0 from 6 votes
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